Surgeons are wrong that crocked Walcott will recover for World Cup, says Wenger

10:45 10 January 2014


Arsenal's Theo Walcott is stretchered off the pitch


Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has dashed hopes that Theo Walcott could recover from his anterior cruciate ligament injury in time for the World Cup.

The Gunners winger suffered a major blow on Monday when it was revealed the damage to his knee – sustained in the 2-0 FA Cup third round victory over Tottenham – would end his season.

Since then there have been a number of surgeon who have insisted that the forward could recover sooner than the usual prognosis of six months, but Wenger poured cold water such suggestions.

He said: “That’s a disease you have everywhere in the world. There are always people who [claim to] make miracles, but when you make more enquiries they never had surgeries of a football player who is a top athlete to prove their statement is right.

“We have enough experience on cruciate [ligament injuries] to know that the minimum time is six months to come back.”

Yet Wenger was thoroughly positive that the England international will return next season will all his qualities unhindered by the injury.

“Yes, I’m convinced,” he said, adding: “We have deep studies show that players around 25 [years old] with that kind of injury, they come back as normal.

“When you’re over 29, you do not ever come back exactly the same.”

Asked how the 24-year-old took the news, early this week, that for the third time in his career that he would not feature in a World Cup, his manager said: “It was a big shock for him because none of us expected such a bad injury straight after the game.

“It was devastating to hear that on Monday night that he’s got that problem.

“Theo is very strong mentally and level-headed and he deals with it as well as you can do when you are confronted with these situations.”

Arsenal were given a boost last night when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return to action for the under-21s against Fulham after five month out with a knee injury.

But Wenger insisted that the youngster, who has been out of action since the opening day of the season defeat to Aston Villa, is not a direct replacement for Walcott.

“It’s good to have him back but they are different types of players,” said the Frenchman. “Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is more a midfielder and Walcott is more a striker type.

“One doesn’t exactly compensate the other one.”

The 20-year-old will be assessed today but Wenger offered a note of caution that the youngster’s rehabilitation is still far from complete.

“He’s been out for five months and that takes a little bit of time to play in the Premier League.”

Arsenal play Villa in the Premier League on Monday night and Wenger revealed that Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil will be available, while Kieran Gibbs has a chance, but the match at Villa Park will come too soon for Aaron Ramsey, Thomas Vermaelen and Nicklas Bendtner.”

On the latter’s injury, Wenger said the Dane should be available again at the end of January.

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